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Investment Trust

Murray International Trust

Elite Rated by FundCalibre

As the name suggests, this trust offers an international portfolio of UK and global equities, as well as some bonds. The manager may invest anywhere in the world and in any sectors, with a focus on maintaining an above-average yield for investors.

Investment Manager

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Aberdeen Asset Management is the investment company employed to manage this trust. The firm was established in 1983, and manages assets for both institutional and retail clients worldwide. It currently has more than 35 offices in more than 25 countries.

Bruce Stout is the lead manager on this trust, while Stephen Docherty, head of Aberdeen’s global equity team, assists. As per Aberdeen’s renowned team approach, the entire global equity team also provide support. Bruce took over as manager some thirteen years ago, having been the deputy manager for many years before. He joined Aberdeen in 1987 as part of an acquisition. Bruce has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Stratehclyde.

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Against a backdrop of global uncertainty, we strive to navigate a smoother course for our investors.We look for companies with strong balance sheets that produce affordable products people really need.

Bruce Stout - Trust Manager

Investment Trust Board

The board comprises six members and is headed by Kevin Carter as chairperson. Kevin was appointed to the board in 2009 and re-elected in 2015. He is a former CEO of Old Mutual Asset Managers in the UK and the United States and has extensive experience of board memberships for investment trusts and pension schemes. The other board members have a vast array of legal, business and investment management experience and include James Best, Marcia Campbell, Peter Dunscombe and David Hardie and Alexandra Mackesy. The board meets six times per year, and the company year end is 31 December.

The Investment Process

Although Bruce has the final say, in general Aberdeen’s investment style is very much a team effort. At the heart of the process is well-disciplined stock research. Bruce, in effect, has two mandates: to protect his investors’ money and grow it over the long term, and to provide above-average income. He prefers simple businesses that have a strong ability to produce surplus cash and a resilient business model. These could be in any industry. He is also prepared to invest anywhere in the world he sees value. His investment horizon when selecting stocks is at least five years.

Risk

This is a relatively focused portfolio of no more than around fifty stocks, so stock selection risk is higher than in trusts that invest in more companies. Currency is another factor that needs to be considered, as the manager does invest globally. However, Bruce is a seasoned investor and Aberdeen’s rigorous process and well-resourced team do go a long way to mitigate these risks.

Gearing

The board believes the judicious use of gearing can enhance returns to the shareholders. Any borrowing (except in the short-term for liquidity purposes) is used for investment purposes or share buybacks. The board sets the level of gearing and continuously monitors that level to ensure it remains within authorised limits. Normally, the gearing will not exceed 30% of the trust’s net asset value.

Share price discount/premium

The trust tends to have a large number of long-term investors and the board do not wish to see a big fluctuation in the share price discount or premium. They therefore closely monitor the position and will issue new shares or buy back shares as needed to help control the price. In the last 10 years (to 31 December 2016), the share price has traded in a range of 10% discount to 10% premium, although it has spent most of this time at a slight premium.

Our Opinion

This is a genuinely international portfolio. Aberdeen is well-known for its global equity research capabilities and Bruce makes full use of the resources available to him. Overall, his style has meant that returns have been very strong in some years and weaker in others, but he has delivered in the long run. As a result, this trust may suit investors who have a long-term investment horizon and are looking for income and growth from global markets.

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